Our Elijah was an Afrikaner delivering a traffic ticket

Each Pessah we laugh about the year mother sent four bottles of her mead to a neighbor.

seder plate 88 224 (photo credit: Courtesy)
seder plate 88 224
(photo credit: Courtesy)
From the day that mother clasped her hands together and said, "Ay, kinder, do you realize it's only six weeks to Pessah," she transmitted a lovely anticipation of the coming festival. A wooden barrel appeared in which my mother, with the use of hopps, set a delicious quantity of mead brewing for Pessah. Then the tin bath was lifted down for the soaking of glassware and the polishing of the silver began. More exciting was the arrival at our small village near the Bushveld in South Africa of the large, not-to-be-opened-until-THE-DAY box of matza ordered well in advance from Johannesburg. Once the Passover fury of cleaning was accomplished, we'd eat in the garden - anywhere but within our already hametz-free home filled with the special aroma of Pessah - of scrubbed wood, mixed with whiffs of rendering schmaltz, maturing mead, pickling cucumbers, beets and what not. Then came the pleasure of watching mother unlock the Pessah cupboard, revealing our best cups, dinner service, cutlery and kitchenware that would replace - for eight days - the plain and ill-matching utensils in use all year round. Every family I'm sure has its own Passover anecdotes - some special shared memory that remains lodged and part of us. In our family, each Pessah we recall and laugh about the year mother sent four bottles of her mead to a neighbor, who placed the bottles on her windowsill where, heated by the Sun, they blew their corks and smashed the irate woman's window. Or that Seder night in Johannesburg when Elijah's goblet stood filled to the brim, and I, waiting for my father's nod, opened the door to find not Elijah, but a messenger of the court - a young Afrikaner man delivering a traffic summons. Seeing him there sent us into fits of laughter. Go explain that particular ritual in the Haggada to a Gentile! The poor man may still be wondering what those Jews found so hilariously funny about being summoned to court!